Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Few Broken Stars

Here is a great idea but one not often seen. While there are many large Star-of-Bethlehem-style quilts with applique in the empty spots, here is a vintage Broken Star filled in with flora and fauna.

Looking at the photos posted in the online auction one would
guess it's 1840-1880 by applique style and what little
glimpsed of the fabrics. It may be after 1880, which actually makes more sense...

Because the broken star pattern itself tends to have been made
after 1880.

When I indexed these large stars I gave this pattern the number 4007.5. In BlockBase the earliest published references I show are from the 1920s and '30s with Capper's Weekly (a farm magazine from Kansas) calling it Broken Star on June 15, 1925. That's the name that became the standard.

Broken Star pattern from a Mountain Mist batting wrapper

There are not many mid-19th century examples of the star inside a ring of star points.

Emiline R. Miller, Eastern Pennsylvania
Collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.
Curators date this variation to 1835-55.

Mennonite or Amish?
Late 19th-early 20th century?

I've been sorting my pictures of star quilts over the past few months and the file on #4007.5 is full of later quilts. Many are  Amish or Mennonite dating to the early 20th century like the one below by an Amish woman.

By Amanda Schrock, collection of the Illinois
State Museum and the Quilt Index.
Let's hope Amanda never saw how fugitive those blues turned out to be.

Made for Elsie Otto's wedding 1960,
in the Amish community in
Topeka, Indiana

Quilt dated 1887 in the collection of the International
Quilt Study Center and Museum. #2003.003.0159
Holstein Collection.

Perhaps based on the above pattern structure seen in Pennsylvania quilts
at the end of the 19th-century.

The majority of the vintage examples are from
the 20th century, but often hard to date within that
range because many were made from kits of pre-cut diamonds.

Signed on the back
M Fiene 1940

The diamonds are often cut from plain cottons.The only clues
to date might be subtle changes in taste in greens or color vibrancy.

An Aunt Martha kit

1940? 1990?


Aunt Martha/Colonial Quilts still sells kits:

Some quilters cut their own pieces from prints,
which makes the quilts somewhat easier to date

This top makes it easy to see why the kits were so popular.
This one is never going to lay flat.

Tim at TimQuilt's posted about some of the kits and die-cut quilts in his collection.


  1. These are really great! Thanks for sharing these. Roseanne

  2. The last one could never even be quilted out. lol

  3. Fabulous.I love stars.Thanks for sharing!!

  4. I love the broken star and have one of my own....you can see it at my blog and the story I have on it if you like! http://moderndiary.blogspot.com/2009/05/gift-of-quilt-in-2006.html

  5. You say in the last pic that this one is never going to lay flat and I said to myself well Tim probably could make it lay flat and the next sentence shows you KNOW all about Tim.

    For a few minutes while looking at all these pictures I was ready to make a broken star with Fassett prints so it could be "dated". Sanity has returned.

  6. I have a quilt just like the one described as Mennonite or Amish…blue background. It is "Chinese". I purchased mine from J.C. Penny in the early 1990s.

  7. Cynthia has a good point....there were sure a lot of people who bought the Chinese version...some good pictures and details here